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Drucker, P. F. (1993).  The Effective Executive.
"But the organization is an abstraction. Mathematically, it would have to be represented as a point—that is, as having neither size nor extension. Even the largest organization is unreal compared to the reality of the environment in which it exists." (p. 13)
Schwartz, H. S. (1990).  Narcissistic Process and Corporate Decay: The Theory of the Organizational Ideal.
"In organizational totalitarianism the organization, as defined by its leadership's understanding of their own actions, is proclaimed to be the organizational ideal; and the organization's power is used to impose this as the ego ideal for the organization's participants. (p. 24)"
Hirschorn, L. (1993).  The Psychodynamics of Organizations. (Howell S. Baum, Eric L. Trist, James Krantz, Carole K. Barnett, Steven P. Feldman, Thomas N. Gilmore, Laurence J. Gould, Larry Hirschorn, Manfred F.R. KetsDeVries, Laurent Lapierre, Howard S. Schwartz, Glenn Swogger, David A. Thomas, Donald R. Young, Abraham Zaleznik, Michael A. Diamond, Ed.).
"In a landmark article, Schwartz (1987) constructed a theory of the 'organizational ideal' in which organization members, unwilling to face their imperfect selves, imagine that the organization contains the secret route to their ideal selves. Projecting their hidden grandiosity onto the organization, they repress their own sense of limits and failure and come to believe that the organization and its leaders are perfect. In such a culture, members have contempt for one another, or for at least those who stand nearer the bottom of the organization, since only by rising to the top can a person prove that he or she approximates the organizational ideal. Competition between peers is then justified, since the organizations perfection can be protected only if the unworthy are eliminated or put in their place. Mutuality between peers is consequently inhibited and feelings are denied." (p. 75)
Glass, J. M. (1995).  Psychosis and Power: Threats to democracy in the self and the group.
"When groups act according to the narcissistic dictates of the ego ideal, when they seem focused only on a set of assumptions that reinforce closed systems of belief, groups have the potential of becoming psychotic. To put it another way, the collective regresses toward more absolutist forms of thinking." (p. 196)
Hirschorn, L. (1990).  The Workplace Within: Psychodynamics of Organizational Life.
Employees will be motivated to take risks, managers hope, because the image of the company will function as their inner ideal. Just as the members of a faceless crowd may feel linked to one another because they love the same idealized leader, employees who relate poorly to one another will nonetheless feel connected to one another because they are members of the same ideal company. This new culture will enable employees to short-circuit the difficult process of facing each other directly, of learning to use and to sublimate more fully their feelings when working with others by substituting a shared ideal for specific working relationships.
Such a manufactured culture is dangerous because it solves the problem of a depersonalized work system by developing and sustaining a psychological culture of splitting. If the company is the new psychological ideal, what Freud called the ego-ideal, then non-company people or employees who deviate from its norms are correspondingly bad and dangerous. Such a totalitarian culture supports idealizations by ultimately hurting deviants or outsiders, leading managers, for example, to punish dissenters and disloyalists or to commit corporate crimes to protect the company. Thus, in going beyond bureaucracy, we face a branch point. We can create settings in which people can sustain the anxiety of seeing one another as both good and bad, or we can create settings in which people work together because they idealize the company and devalue outsiders." (p. 181)

See also: false self, organizational totalitarianism, group narcissism, organizational psychodynamics

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Concept Scheme: business culture/management vocabulary

URI: business culture/management vocabulary


  • Concept: organizational_ideal
    • preferred: organizational ideal
    • alternate: psychological ideal
    • definition: (psychoanalysis) the part of the ego that contains an ideal of personal excellence toward which a person strives
    • related: false_self
    • related: organizational_totalitarianism
    • related: group_narcissism
    • broader: organizational_psychodynamics
    • closeMatch:
    • keyword-195
    • linked content:
        ego ideal
      • in scheme:
      • gloss: (psychoanalysis) the part of the ego that contains an ideal of personal excellence toward which a person strives
      • hyponym of:
      • sense: ego ideal
      • synset id: 105925862
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